Honey Garlic Spareribs - Chinese Restaurant Style




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Honey Garlic Spareribs Chinese Restaurant Style

I’m going to show you how to make Chinese restaurant style Honey Garlic Spare ribs. These are sweet, savoury and candy like and the best part super easy to make. These ribs are found in many Chinese restaurant menus in Canada but they are actually are not found on any restaurant menu in China or Hong Kong. My dad had a Chinese Restaurant, this recipe was the one he used and now I’m sharing it with you. I’ve modified this recipe to use it in the Instant Pot as well.

A bit of trivia and history, this recipe was developed for the North American market by Chinese immigrants in the 60s or 70s trying to make a living serving food for a market that would not have a desire or palate to try “traditional” Chinese food. So hence was bone dishes like General Taos Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls, Beef and Broccoli and Honey Garlic Spareribs, but while these dishes are different than traditional Chinese food, the techniques and essence of Chinese cooking is still applied to these dishes, even if they are for the North American market and palate.

I think Honey Garlic Spareribs is a perfect comfort food!

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Step 1: Ingredients:

The list of ingredients is short:

  • 1 Rack of Pork Side Ribs (about 3-4 lbs) or Pork Shoulder cut into Small Chunks
  • 2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar
  • Handful of Garlic Cloves Smashed (about 12-18 cloves)
  • 5 Tablespoons Light Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce
  • Water

Special Equipment:

  • Instant Pot

*Notice that missing from this list is honey, that’s the big secret and joke, is there is no honey in honey garlic spareribs.

Step 2: Method:

Get your butcher to chop the pork side ribs in to 1.5” pieces, look at the pictures to see how they are cut up. If you are going to do it yourself, first take the rack of ribs and cut them between the bones to separate each rib.

Then cut each rib into chopstick size pieces, you will want to use a very large butchers knife or cleaver to do this. Alternatively if you don’t want to cut them up or want bigger pieces leave the ribs in single pieces.


  1. Smash the cloves of garlic to start the process of releasing allicin (the pungent flavor and smell of garlic)
  2. Add the ribs and smashed garlic into a pot, I’m using the Instant Pot to speed up the cooking process.
  3. Add the 2 cups of dark brown sugar to the pot.
  4. Add about 1 -2 cups water, just enough to cover about half of the ribs. Don’t add too much, the pork as it cooks down will shrink and also release moisture and fat.
  5. Add 5 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  6. Add 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce Give the pot a good stir to combine all the ingredients.
  7. Set the Instant Pot for 30 minutes at high pressure and start. If using stove top method, bring to a boil and then reduce to very low simmer for 2-3 hours or until tender.
  8. Let the Instant Pot depressurize naturally or manually release it, once cooked the ribs should be almost fall of the bone tender and a lot of fat will have rendered out. Skim this fat off and discard.

Serve will fresh steamed rice and vegetables. The juice in the pot can be reduced down in a sauce pan to make it thicker and more concentrated as well. I like it straight from the pot and pouring some over my rice, so good!

There you have it restaurant style honey garlic spareribs, that actually has no honey in it! ;)

Check out my video too!

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    8 Discussions


    7 months ago on Step 2

    Looks great, Andrew!! But even though you're stating to add one cup of water in your video, it looks like you added quite a bit more...


    7 months ago

    Thank you for your great instructable. Will be making this in my slow cooker. Thank you again.


    Question 7 months ago

    For 20 years I've been looking for the honey garlic chicken recipe used at a Chinese restaurant in Ottawa that my then boyfriend would get all of his relatives when they visited to bring down the chicken to Ft Lauderdale. It was so good - but the restaurant closed without ever sharing the recipe. Maybe it was your dad's... Anyway I will give this a try. No honey, that is funny.


    Question 7 months ago

    Would this work in a pressure cooker. What changes would be needed.


    Question 7 months ago

    Could you do this in a regular crockpot? I don't have an instapot.

    1 answer

    Answer 7 months ago

    An instapot is merely a 21st century crockpot. The difference is that in a crockpot you don't have the electronic timer, and it doesn't incorporate a pressure cooker as well. You can do this using a crockpot. You just need to leave the ingredients in there for 2-3 hours (like he suggests if you're cooking this on top of the stove) so the meat becomes very well cooked (it's pork after all. You want to make sure it's cooked thoroughly to avoid any possible problems with undercooked pork) and tender. I've done something similar without the brown sugar in my crockpot and it comes out just as delicious.
    Hope this helps.


    7 months ago

    These look amazing, just need to wait until I'm not on a diet to try them :-)


    7 months ago

    Ohhhhhh yes. Anything with that much garlic has to be delicious :D